If you've ever been ring shopping, then you've likely been told about the 4 criteria that go into pricing a diamond. When I was shopping for my wife's wedding ring, picking out the diamond was my favorite part. I did some research beforehand and quickly discovered what these 4 criteria are: color, cut, clarity, and carat-weight.
I distinctly remember holding that funny Loupe up to my eye and examining the details of the diamond more closely. And honestly, when I was squinting my eye to hold it in place it made me think of the rich uncle in one of my favorite childhood cartoons - "DuckTales" (you know what I'm talking about!).
As the years have passed, I've never forgotten that experience of selecting the diamond, and I've realized that there are many valuable marriage-related lessons to be learned from how a diamond is graded and priced.
The 4 C's of valuing a diamond
Clarity is a measure of the flaws in a diamond. Many of these flaws (or inclusions as they are called) are only visible with a microscope. However, sometimes the flaws can be seen with the naked eye. The number of inclusions, and the size of those inclusions, largely impacts the value of the diamond. Interestingly enough, no diamond is perfect... at least no realdiamond is.
The rule of clarity in marriage is simple: once you're married, choose to stop seeing flaws and to only see the good in your spouse. In other words, put on your rose colored glasses. If the perfect diamond doesn't exist in nature, then don't expect perfection from your spouse.
The second lesson here is to have a source of clarity in your life and marriage. For some, this comes in the form of religion; for others, it means being out in nature; for others still, it could be found in the form of a trusted friend or mentor. Perhaps, it's all of these. Whatever your source of clarity may be, go to it and go to it often. It will help clear your mind and remind you of the things that matter most to you.
A very important, and perhaps the most obvious, criterion to look at when judging the value of a diamond is its color. The grading is quite simple: each diamond is assigned a letter from D to Z, with D being a "colorless" diamond, and Z being a diamond that shows noticeable color. The bottom line is that the more clear, or colorless, a diamond, the greater its value.
The "color" criterion in marriage could very well be symbolic of pureness. Just like a diamond, you want your marriage to be as blemish-free as possible. At the same time, it's okay to acknowledge that no marriage is perfect, just like no real diamond is perfect. We should constantly be striving to be better for our spouse - to be the person they deserve.
Purity in marriage means being completely true to each other. It's keeping some things between just the two of you and always speaking highly of your spouse. It's being true physically and emotionally... always. No exceptions and no excuses.
A diamond's cut is the single most important factor affecting its beauty, and is also the most important determinant of value. The better the cut, the more brilliant the diamond looks. This is because correct angles and proportions allow light rays to reflect most effectively off the stone.
Just like it's critical for a diamond to have the right angles and proportions in order to shine brightly, it's equally important that you find the right balance in your marriage. Cut out the things that don't bring you closer together. Cut out poor habits and rough edges that present conflict.
Each spouse may have to sacrifice some of their personal pleasures in order for the marriage to flourish. This is all part of having the right cut. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't have personal hobbies - but, maybe find something you can do together. Be willing to make sacrifices, and always put your spouse first.
A carat is a unit of weight equal to one fifth of a gram. Obviously, it's used to measure the weight of the diamond. The larger the diamond, the more valuable it is. Pretty simple, right?
In marriage, I think of this as remembering the more weighty matters. Said differently -set priorities and remember those priorities.
Life can get busy... very busy. And sometimes different obligations sit at different places on our list of priorities. Always remember what's most important. You simply can't go wrong by keeping your spouse and marriage as your most important priority. Choose to meet up with your wife for lunch instead of going out with your co-workers; fit in a phone call to your husband before calling that client back; talk with your spouse over dinner instead of watching TV, etc. Keep your spouse #1, and you won't go wrong.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking, "My diamond (or my wife's diamond) isn't real - are you saying our commitment to each other is discounted?" Not at all!
Diamonds are expensive, no question. And sometimes couples get married early on when they are far from being "well established" (I would know, April and I were married when we were both 21). I have a lot of respect for people who are financially savvy enough to know what they can and can't afford, and who choose to forgo the diamond rather than cripple themselves from the beginning (and let's be honest - there's something neat about having the "perfect" diamond, even if it is man-made, because those simply don't exist in nature!). I also have a lot of respect for people who are confident enough in themselves to realize that the dollar value of their wedding rings is not symbolic of the amount of love between them. At the end of the day, what REALLY matters is the value you see (and create) in your marriage.
These four C's will help you remember how a priceless marriage is created, rather than how a rock is valued. By focusing on these 4 C's, you'll be able to create the marriage you want, all while letting your wedding rings remind you of the love and commitment you share, as husband and wife.
This article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.